Friday, May 27, 2011

Boom for the financial elites, Ferraries everywhere: Marc Faber

Legendary investor Marc Faber is worried about the vast riches of the financial elites while the middle class and lower class struggle.   

"From my taste in front of luxury hotels there are far too many Ferraries and Maseraties and Bentleys and this is not a good sign," he said in an interview with Bloomberg TV.

 "There is an opulence among a small group of people that is huge when there are lots of people that are struggling," he said.

Faber's statements may sound anecdotal, but there is numerical evidence to back them up.  For example, the top 0.1 percent of earners in America earns 6 percent of all income today while they only earned 2 percent in the 1960s.

Wealth concentration - caused by distorted policies that cause problems like financial asset bubbles - is dangerous to the economy.  One scenario is that consumers don't have the purchasing power to spend, which then causes an economic slowdown .  Another scenario is that they borrow to spend and sow the seeds for future economic crises with their debt.

An IMF study also suggested that if the rich accumulates too much money, they will demand investment products that will ultimately leads to the detrimental over-financialization of the real economy.

Faber thinks part of the opulence of the financial elite is financed by the huge run-up in financial asset prices since March 2009.  He thinks the rally won't last much longer.    

He said he's seen this kind of boom in emerging market countries and they have not ended well.  When he saw them, it was "the time to get out." Seeing so many expensive cars in the US gives him a "bad feeling," he said.


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